Debian Linux 6 Squeeze: Install Linux Kernel 3.2.xx

How do I install Linux kernel version 3.2.xx without compiling the Linux kernel from source code under Debian Linux Squeeze version 6.x running on HP hardware?

Tutorial details
Difficulty level Easy
Root privileges Yes
Requirements Reboot
Est. reading time N/A
Debian Linux 6 comes with the Linux kernel version 2.6.32.xx only. However, you can install the Linux kernel version 3.2.xx or newer using backports. From the page:

Backports are recompiled packages from testing (mostly) and unstable (in a few cases only, e.g. security updates) in a stable environment so that they will run without new libraries (whenever it is possible) on a Debian stable distribution. Backports cannot be tested as extensively as Debian stable, and backports are provided on an as-is basis, with risk of incompatibilities with other components in Debian stable. Use with care! It is therefore recommended to select single backported packages that fit your needs, and not use all available backports.

Step #1: Add backports

Edit /etc/apt/sources.list, run:
# vi /etc/apt/sources.list
Append the following line:

deb squeeze-backports main

Save and close the file. Run the following command:
# apt-get update

Step #2: Install the Linux kernel 3.x.xx backport

Type the following command to search kernel image:
# apt-cache search linux-image-3
Sample outputs:

linux-headers-3.2.0-0.bpo.2-amd64 - Header files for Linux 3.2.0-0.bpo.2-amd64
linux-headers-3.2.0-0.bpo.2-rt-amd64 - Header files for Linux 3.2.0-0.bpo.2-rt-amd64
linux-image-3.2.0-0.bpo.2-amd64-dbg - Debugging infos for Linux 3.2.0-0.bpo.2-amd64
linux-image-3.2.0-0.bpo.2-amd64 - Linux 3.2 for 64-bit PCs
linux-image-3.2.0-0.bpo.2-rt-amd64-dbg - Debugging infos for Linux 3.2.0-0.bpo.2-rt-amd64
linux-image-3.2.0-0.bpo.2-rt-amd64 - Linux 3.2 for 64-bit PCs, PREEMPT_RT

Type the following command to install the Linux 3.2. for 64-bit systems:
# apt-get -t squeeze-backports install linux-image-3.2.0-0.bpo.2-amd64 firmware-linux-free
Sample outputs:

Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
The following extra packages will be installed:
  initramfs-tools linux-base
Suggested packages:
The following NEW packages will be installed:
  firmware-linux-free linux-image-3.2.0-0.bpo.2-amd64
The following packages will be upgraded:
  initramfs-tools linux-base
2 upgraded, 2 newly installed, 0 to remove and 14 not upgraded.
Need to get 23.7 MB of archives.
After this operation, 117 MB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue [Y/n]? y

You may be prompted to accept or deny few changes. Reboot the system:
# reboot
Finally, verify that you are using Linux 3.2:
# uname -mrs
# cat /proc/version
Sample outputs:

Linux version 3.2.0-0.bpo.2-amd64 (Debian 3.2.20-1~bpo60+1) ( (gcc version 4.4.5 (Debian 4.4.5-8) ) #1 SMP Fri Jun 29 20:42:29 UTC 2012

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🐧 18 comments so far... add one

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18 comments… add one
  • alex marian Jul 30, 2012 @ 3:46

    please make a tutorial (video or text) about compiling the linux kernel ; that would be great and very useful ; regards

    • smartbob Dec 13, 2012 @ 5:23

      Why? This tutorial is clear and simple.

  • Pravin Rane Aug 2, 2012 @ 3:56

    Most of the HP servers have Broadcom Ethernet Controller, you need to install back ported drivers for bnx2. Download it from below link and install it using

    dpkg -i
  • Georgeus Aug 7, 2012 @ 14:57

    you have helped me

  • x Aug 25, 2012 @ 19:17

    Yeah i suggest not doing this if you have a OVH server with grsec. It just killed my server, so i’m having to re-install debian now.

    • Guzman Sep 12, 2012 @ 22:50

      It’s never a good idea to update kernel in any remote server you don’t have KVM except you take specific measures to tell grub for example to boot only once the new kernel so in case it fails you just restart.

      We have moved many times OVH servers to backports kernel, and they work like a charm, there’s/was an issue with the rtm version but it won’t kill your server. It may get a kernel panic on boot and you need to go to the KVM menu in your OVH manager and access through there your server to boot another kernel.

  • Maciej Sep 4, 2012 @ 8:18

    If you have /tmp mounted with paranoid options line noexec,nosuid,nodev, then noexec will hit you with similar to this:
    Can’t exec “/tmp/linux-base.config.88581”: Permission denied at /usr/share/perl/5.10/IPC/ line 168.
    open2: exec of /tmp/linux-base.config.88581 configure 2.6.32-45 failed at /usr/share/perl5/Debconf/ line 59
    linux-base failed to preconfigure, with exit status 255
    Can’t exec “/tmp/linux-image-3.2.0-0.bpo.3-iop32x.config.88583”: Permission denied at /usr/share/perl/5.10/IPC/ line 168.
    open2: exec of /tmp/linux-image-3.2.0-0.bpo.3-iop32x.config.88583 configure failed at /usr/share/perl5/Debconf/ line 59
    linux-image-3.2.0-0.bpo.3-iop32x failed to preconfigure, with exit status 255

    Remove noexec from /tmp before starting.

  • Sebastian Oct 4, 2012 @ 18:54

    Very useful thanks a million.

  • joe Oct 8, 2012 @ 19:16

    After many frustrating unsuccessful attempts to use “backports” your instructions did the trick. Thanks.

  • thiago Nov 3, 2012 @ 14:18

    I had to install linux-headers-3.2.0-amd64-0.bpo.2

  • user Jan 20, 2013 @ 3:24
    root@computer:/home/user# apt-get -t squeeze-backports install linux-headers-3.2.0-amd64-0.bpo.2 firmware-linux-free
    Reading package lists... Done
    Building dependency tree       
    Reading state information... Done
    E: Unable to locate package linux-headers-3.2.0-amd64-0.bpo.2
    E: Couldn't find any package by regex 'linux-headers-3.2.0-amd64-0.bpo.2'
    root@computer:/home/user# apt-get -t squeeze-backports install linux-image-3.2.0-0.bpo.2-amd64 firmware-linux-free
    Reading package lists... Done
    Building dependency tree       
    Reading state information... Done
    E: Unable to locate package linux-image-3.2.0-0.bpo.2-amd64
    E: Couldn't find any package by regex 'linux-image-3.2.0-0.bpo.2-amd64'
  • Tamsyn Feb 2, 2013 @ 12:02

    I followed your instructions and it’s upgrading now *fingers crossed*

    I think what people are missing (above) is that they should use the header file from:
    # apt-cache search linux-image-3
    rather than “linux-image-3.2.0-0.bpo.2-amd64” (out of date)
    when doing:
    # apt-get -t squeeze-backports install linux-image-3.2.0-0.bpo.2-amd64 firmware-linux-free

    So for me it was:
    apt-get -t squeeze-backports install linux-headers-3.2.0-0.bpo.4-rt-amd64 firmware-linux-free

    So they should do:
    # apt-get -t squeeze-backports install “header file from the ‘apt-cache search linux-image-3’ command” firmware-linux-free

    It’s taking quite some time, so I’m off to read a good book. Hopefully when I come back I’ll have Squeeze working.

    PS – that means I need to update my source list to Wheezy, yeah?

  • Erif May 16, 2013 @ 17:41

    Thanks, work perfectly

  • Sms Nov 24, 2013 @ 1:21

    Updating source.list to wheezy / wheezy back-ports works pretty well but you need to be careful with things you are installing when working with aptitude. you don’t use apt-get with wheezy / wheezy back-ports on debian squeeze.

    I did this and now working with a 3.10.16 kernel on debian squeeze. works damn fast and eats less power ( battery goes longer ) and works quieter ( it is a thinpad w520, big one with a huge cooler )

  • k Feb 8, 2014 @ 21:42

    i Can install the kernel: the console show this: linux-base (3) unstable; urgency=low

    * Some HP Smart Array controllers are now handled by the new ‘hpsa’
    driver, rather than the ‘cciss’ driver.

    While the cciss driver presented disk device names beginning with
    ‘cciss/’, hpsa makes disk arrays appear as ordinary SCSI disks and
    presents device names beginning with ‘sd’. In a system that already
    has other SCSI or SCSI-like devices, names may change unpredictably.

    During the upgrade from earlier versions, you will be prompted to
    update configuration files which refer to device names that may
    change. You can choose to do this yourself or to follow an automatic
    upgrade process. All changed configuration files are backed up with
    a suffix of ‘.old’ (or ‘^old’ in one case).

    — Ben Hutchings Wed, 16 Mar 2011 13:19:34 +0000

    /tmp/tmpJOUV0_ (END)
    and i can’t continue…

    • Egor May 21, 2014 @ 12:30

      I got this problem too:

      * Some HP Smart Array controllers are now handled by the new β€˜hpsa’
      driver, rather than the β€˜cciss’ driver.

      Have any advices?


      • Innercy Oct 27, 2014 @ 14:58

        Simply press “q” to continue the installation

  • ricci Nov 1, 2015 @ 16:10

    thank you , that was very helpful.

    continue using squeeze because it is so rock solid on my macmini 2.1! yeeeeh!

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